Proverbs 21:15



Scene Title Proverbs 21:15
Synopsis Berlin makes a fatal decision.
Date October 3, 2018

The Pine Barrens are a place Berlin Beckett never expected to be. But life is nothing, if not full of unexpected surprises.

Before the war, these rolling miles of pine forests were part of the National Parks system. During the war they were refuge for those fleeing the cities and urban centers set aflame by the fires of war, and miraculously came out of the civil war without turning into a tinderbox. But the survivors found the Pine Barrens too harsh to settle in, too cold in the winter months, too wild and untamed and too isolated to find traction in resettling. Only the hardy and the desperate remained behind.

Only those who wanted the pine boughs embrace, only those who wanted to disappear into them. Disappear they did.

New Jersey Pine Barrens

78 Miles from the Safe Zone

October 10

18:27 Hours

Randolph Burgess is a family man. Berlin’s come to learn this. He has a two-story home on the outskirts of the Pine Barrens, set back from the road and nestled in those deep pine boughs. The rumble of a generator echoes from the property six hours out of every day, and Randolph drives in to the ramshackle settlements on the Barrens’ coast to trade venison for fuel oil once per week.

Randolph Burgess is a hunter. Berlin’s come to learn this too. Every Friday Randolph leaves his home, his husband, and their son and drives out into the forest to bow hunt deer. Since the war the deer population has exploded, and people like Randolph who possess those skills leverage them to survive.

Randolph Burgess is a survivor. Berlin's come to learn this as well. But Randolph Burgess hides a secret, hides his past as Lawrence Clarke, and does it behind the mask of a new life. Berlin wasn't able to find out much about either Clark or Burgess. National databases are patchy at best and there's no posted reward for Doctor Clarke anywhere. He must have slipped through the notice of people who got plea deals for safety. Given what Adam said about him, though, no sane world would let someone like Clarke walk. Not if they knew what he did.

To children.

Down the street from Burgess’ house, Berlin watches the tail lights of his truck coming back from the coast, as late evening turns to dusk. There's a chill in the air, crisp and cold, and she can see her breath. Randolph’s husband — partner? She wasn't able to find any marriage certificates — is already home with their 11 year old son.

From here she can just barely see the lights on in the house. From here, she wonders how he sleeps at night.

The simple fact that he has a child has been a difficult one for Berlin. That he seems to have a happy family is more of a barb than a salve at this particular moment. But she's patient. She can wait. She has waited. With no overt villainy showing, and with the databases being what they are, she hasn't been able to confirm what Adam has told her about him. Which means she needs a different approach.

A more active one.

She walks down the street toward the house, leaving the bike she came on parked around the corner. Her helmet hangs from her fingers, her hair is pulled up in a sloppy ponytail, her jeans are a little muddy. She'll knock if she has too, but she hopes to time it right so she can run into Burgess before he gets inside.

Through the treeline she can see his truck coming to a stop in the dirt driveway. Tail lights shine bright from application of brakes, blooming red in the light evening fog. As she reaches the mouth of the driveway flanked by a pair of mossy old pines, Berlin sees Burgess opening the door of his truck, hopping out onto the wet ground.

Burgess isn't as tall as she'd imagined, maybe 5’ 8” or so but he's made to look smaller by how large his pickup truck is. He's dressed in loose flannel and denim, hauling a backpack out with one hand. A rifle sits on a rack inside the cab, left behind for the moment. A tarp in the back of the truck covers whatever he's brought in. He doesn't yet notice Berlin, seemingly lost in thought.

The man is assessed. The truck, the rifle, the tarp. Berlin takes mental note, in case this goes sideways. As for herself, she makes her walk unassuming, her expression frazzled, and she sighs out relief when she's in view of the driveway.

"Excuse me," she says, stopping at the mouth of the drive, "I'm sorry to bother you, but you seem to be the only person awake out here." She chuckles, joking but unsure of her situation. "I'm parked down the street a ways… I ran out of gas. I was hoping you might have some to spare. I can pay for it." Fingers tuck her hair behind her ear. She looks friendly enough, but keeping her distance for now.

For a moment Burgess tenses, backpack held fat in hand and shoulders square, jaw set. He looks braced for something other than politeness, then exhales when Berlin explains that she's stranded. Throwing his backpack into the truck, Burgess walls to close some of the distance.

“Well, you're not going to have a lot of luck with that,” he admits with a perfectly good-natured smile. “I mean, down there. Hardly anyone lives around here anymore, unless you count the church folk in the woods. Suppose there's some migrants from out west but they keep to themselves to the south some. Nobody really here, except the national guard from time to time.”

Talkative in the way someone gets because of isolation, Burgess tucks his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “I've got some gas in a can, but I'm gonna be a bit stuffy about the price.” Then, as he looks Berlin up and down. “You out here all alone?”

"Hopefully not too stuffy or I'll have to move into the neighborhood." Joking tone comes easier, like she's been reassured by something in his explanation. When, really, all he's confirmed is that beyond his family, the two of them are very alone. "At least until the next time the National Guard swing by."

Her eyebrow lifts at the question and she glances down the street. "I'm afraid so. For now. Bit of a migrant myself." A descriptor that implies a lot of nights alone riding down dark rodes, considering. "When I have the gas for it," she adds with a smile, bringing it back around to her original point. "What's your asking price?"

“Twenty,” Burgess says with a wince as if he knows how bad that is. “Per gallon. It's hard to come by out here and folks who sell do it high. I've got maybe two gallons I can spare… should be enough to get you up to the Safe Zone.” He steps away from the conversation, moving to the back of the truck and pulling down the tailgate.

Blood drips out from the hinge.

In the bed of the truck, a deer carcass lays motionless under the tarp. Burgess motions to a large red can of gasoline sitting beside it. “Otherwise I’d say you could try your luck with the church folk down about a mile and a half that way,” he motions to the west. “But I don't know much about them and don't really feel the need to.”

Berlin whistles at the price, because that is quite a leap up even from the Safe Zone. But, she can imagine that out here, alone, it's a difficult resource to come by at all.

The blood makes her tense up. Even though she already knew there was a dead animal back there. Even though blood doesn't usually make her squeamish.

She approaches the back of the truck, hand teaching out to tip the gas can just enough to test how much is actually in there. It's just going through the motions now. She has no intention of actually buying any. "I think I'll skip the church people," she says, her tone shifting just a little— maybe enough to warn him that something else is going on here.

"But I need to ask you about Dr. Lawrence Clark."

Burgess pales, staring at Berlin like she'd fired a gun into the air. A few quick, short breaths come next and he doesn't move so much as an inch, save for a worried look toward the house and back again. “Lawrence Clark is gone,” he says with a shaky voice. “I paid my dues, okay? I— ” His voice is a trembling whisper. “I flipped for them, I had my time in Albany and they cut me loose.”

The story is one Berlin isn't personally privy to, but one that isn't all that surprising. There were more Bella Sheridans in the world than she'd care to admit. Most non-executive Institute agent's and employees faced this same situation. Testify against their superiors, the ones handing down the orders, for leniency. Sometimes reprehensible people were let out of the noose to hang worse offenders.

“Now get out of here,” Burgess insists, nostrils flaring and feigning strength when there's so much dread in his eyes.

That explanation isn’t hard to believe. And it was on the list of possibilities as to why she couldn’t find much out about him on her own.

She lets out a long sigh.

“You have proof of that? Court papers, anything?” Stopping a moment, she looks over at him to take in his fear. And really she doesn’t mind that he’s afraid. He should be. “Look, I came to get the facts. And apparently to save your life.” She gestures to the house, because those are the people who deserve her help. It’s only the letter of the law that affords him the same. “You’re in trouble. I’m not the only one who knows the connection between you and Dr. Clark. But I can get you and your family somewhere safe. If you don’t want to try coming back to civilization… well. I know a place.”

Someone she trusts for reasons that are not her own.

“A place you could do some good. Help people. There’s a higher court to answer to than just the law.”

Burgess is only hearing half of what Berlin is saying, words like danger and family send a chill down his spine. When he finally starts to move, it's to turn toward the house. His hand is trembling, fingertips still on the tailgate. He looks back to Berlin, shaking his head with fear in his eyes. “I can't— ”

Suddenly, Burgess lets out a howl of a scream as an arrow lodged itself in his right knee. Birds scatter from the trees at the cry, and Burgess collapses down onto his side, clutching his leg and screaming louder. At the end of the driveway, there stands a familiar blonde figure dressed all in black, carrying a tall bow made for hunting, quiver of arrows at his hip.


“This wasn't what I had in mind,” Adam calls out as he walks ahead, sliding another arrow out of the quiver and gently nocking it in the string. Lights are coming on inside of the house.

Berlin steps in front of Burgess, drawing a gun from the back of her waistband to point it in Adam’s direction. “I know what you had in mind. And I told you I’m not your pet. If you wanted him dead, you should have just done it yourself. Now you have to get through me to try it.”

It doesn’t seem like much of a threat at first glance, a young woman and a pistol against an immortal who certainly didn’t learn how to use his bow from the movies. Berlin will have to appreciate his historical accuracy later, though.

“Burgess, tell your family to stay inside.” Berlin doesn’t look at the man she’s protecting, or at the windows as lights start to flick on, because she’s keeping an eye on Adam.

There's a subtle exasperation to the way Adam rolls his eyes. “I'm not here to kill him,” he says flatly, though it certainly looks the part. At the shouting, Burgess’ partner bursts out the front door and then snares a ten year old by the waist when he tries to run past him. “Randy!” His partner cries.

Get back in the house!” Burgess shouts from the ground, “get— get in the house, please!” Adam flicks a blue-eyed stare down to Burgess, then up to Berlin. He stops some fifteen feet from them, relaxing his bow and keeping the nocked arrow balance between the fingers that grip the bow itself. Slowly, Adam reaches down to his back pocket and retrieved a sealed yellow mailing envelope and throws it at Berlin’s feet.

“I was hoping we could do this a little cleaner, but,” Adam tilts his head to the side, eyeing Berlin. “Go ahead, read it.”

“Burgess. Get behind the truck.” She’s covering, obviously, so she doesn’t say that part. She holds her free hand out toward the rest of the Burgesses. “Please go back inside,” she states, firmly. She doesn’t sound as stressed as his husband, but then, she doesn’t have an arrow through her.

The envelope hits the ground and Berlin twitches. Her fingers resettle over the grip of her gun. Part of her wants to grab it and read every awful detail. He should not get to walk free, and she knows justice wasn’t done there. Not for any of the ones that flipped. Even people she’s come to look up to have made exceptions for their enemies.

But Berlin wants to do better. Be better.

“It doesn’t matter what he did. Not anymore. He was pardoned. And now I’m going to take him somewhere safe from you and your many contacts where he can spend the rest of his life making up for it. Doing some good. That’s the only way this comes off.”

“Doesn't it?” Adam asks aloud. Then, looking down to Burgess he asks. “Has she asked you about the H5N10 design yet?” Pale brows rise, and Adam moves blue eyes back over to Berlin. “Doctor Clark worked with Mohinder Suresh on a weaponization of the H1N1 virus. He was a virologist that tailor made a biological weapon designed to kill us.”

Adam motions to the envelope. “His test subjects? Children. He worked directly under the ex-Vanguard researcher Dmitri Gregor in Staten Island Hospital. He wasn't a captive. He wasn't a prisoner. He did it willingly.

Burgess is crawling away from the truck, trying to follow Berlin’s request as Adam goes on his tirade. His partner and son up at the house are frozen in fear, seeming unwilling to go back in the house. The young boy, sobbing now, calls for his father.

“Do you know why he's here? Why he's free? Because he used the blood money the Institute paid him to hire a world-class attorney. He got a plea bargain for dirt on Suresh. He walked away from the Albany Trials after the weapon he made ravaged our people.” Adam points down to Burgess.

“And here you are defending him.” Adam’s blue eyes are wide and wild. Burgess, terrifies, is scrambling away on his hands and knees with his shot leg dragging behind him.

“Don’t lecture me on what the Institute did, I lived it.” Berlin’s voice comes out in a shaky growl. However well she was holding it together until now, this is where it starts to fall apart. “They took everything from me and locked me in a box. Those people their virus killed, I died with them, you understand? You’ve got anger? I can match it. And I am not defending Dr. Clark.”

She glances away from Adam, to Burgess’ husband and son. Just for a moment. Just enough to explain what she is defending.

“If we keep hurting each other, keep taking revenge for revenge for revenge… then it never ends. Does it?” She looks down at the envelope at her feet, blinking away tears. But they still threaten when she looks back to him again, fire seeming to drain away— so much so that she lowers her weapon. “That’s all I have in my head. As far back as it goes, us and them killing each other. When does it end, Adam?” Because what she is above everything else is tired.

With a roll of his eyes, Adam lowers the bow and plucks the arrow off from it and slides it back into the quiver on his hip. “It ends when they're all dead,” is how he plainly explains it. Burgess continues to try and crawl away, dragging his wounded leg behind himself. By now, his partner has hailed their son into the house and has returned to the doorway with a rifle.

Get off our property!” Is the shout that comes from the doorway, and Adam rankles his nose and bares his teeth in that direction, then turns a baleful look back to Berlin.

“Look at them!” Adam says with a wild gesture toward the house, “Do you think they're going to thank you for this mercy? Do you honestly think this man is going to change his stripes?” Blue eyes look back and Adam rapidly approaches Berlin and stares down at her. “People don't change, they just reveal what's been inside themselves all along. He needs to pay for what he's done to our kind. I know you have that in you, I know there's this voice in the back of your mind demanding justice.”

Jaw set and teeth on edge, Adam appears to have called the gunman’s bluff. No shots this far fired. “How many more of our kind need to die before we realize we can't forgive and forget. We have to make an example.

"Or it could end when they are all us," Berlin says, head tilting toward Burgess' partner as he comes back out with gun in hand. In contrast to Adam's bared teeth, she gives the man an expectant look and shifts her gaze to the truck for a moment. The truck that his husband is dragging himself behind.

It's just a moment, though. Easy to miss.

She looks back to Adam when he speaks again, expression drawn into a frown, brow furrowed. Her head shakes as he goes on, eyes squeezing shut as if that might shut out what he's saying. "No. No, I don't," she says, more like she's wishing she were telling the truth than like she's actually telling it. Berlin doesn't want to have that voice. "We're supposed to make a better world, not repeat the old one. Clean up the past, then focus on the future." Her words sound very much like she's quoting someone, rather than speaking her own thoughts.

She glances toward the house, then over at Adam again. At the space between them. He's close now and the thought crosses her mind that she could do more than just talk him down.

But she doesn't.

Something Berlin says gives Adam pause, and he watches Burgess crawling away and then up to the rifle-wielding man standing in the doorway of the house. “There's wisdom in your words,” his blue eyes turn back to her, one brow raised. “A better world doesn't have to mean a world of concessions, one where the guilty walk away unscathed for the crimes they've committed because they have a fancy lawyer.”

Adam reaches down to his left hip and unclips a folding knife, snapping it open with an audible click of the six inch long blade. Then, like some kind of offering, he turns the black-handled knife around and holds it in the space between he and Berlin.

“I'm going to burn the old world to the ground,” Adam whispers into the small space between them, “and grow a beautiful garden from its ashes.” Blue eyes search her black ones. “A world of justice.”

Then, Adam looks to Burgess. “A world for us.”

I am just a copy of a copy of a copy

Lifting a hand, Berlin wipes at her eyes and reminds herself to breathe. She looks up to Adam then follows his eyes toward the house. The breath she releases is a shaky one. Because she's listening. And as much as she might not want the voice in the back of her head, it's there all the same.

Everything I say has come before

When she hears the knife, her gaze flicks over to it. Her lips press together, but her fingers reach out to wrap around the handle. She looks up at Adam, meeting his searching gaze with a steady one of her own. Her free hand moves to his wrist, though, and her dark eyes sweep over into an unnatural blue as she starts to drain him away, a bit at a time.


"Just so we understand each other,” LeRoux says lowly, “I’m the only person in charge of me.” She looks sideways at Adam, power lingering a bit longer, as if to prove a point. But she lets go of him, looking back toward Burgess. "He won't go unscathed."

Assembled into something into something into something

Stepping away, she starts toward the truck, fingers running along the bed as she rounds it, even when they dip into the blood pooling here and there. Once she's on the far side with Dr. Clark, her power sweeps for signs of life nearby, Adam's furry spies or otherwise, and positions herself to block him from view. Her blood covered hand reaches for his face, turning him toward her. "I'm going to hurt you," she says, "and I'm going to need you to scream."

I don't know for certain anymore

What he might notice, though, is that she's mostly lying. The deer's blood makes him look messy, but all she does to him is use the knife to carve three lines into his arm. It hurts, certainly, but she's making it look far worse than it is.

I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow

At that distance, Adam squints at LeRoux’s work with the knife, listens to the panicked screams coming from Burgess. It doesn't take long while she's putting on her torture routine for the man in the door to take his chances and fire at her, and the rifle shot goes wide, slamming into the bed of the truck. There's a loud click-clack as heekects the shell and goes about chambering another round with fumbling fingers. “Stop! Stay away from him!” He pleads, while a child cries in the background.

Always trying to catch up with myself

Adam continues to watch, though slowly he fingers an arrow out of the quiver at his waist, sliding it down into the bow with casual hands. Blue eyes remain focused on Burgess, but LeRoux can tell he's peripherally watching the gunman, and that there's so many ways this moment can go horribly wrong. This close to Burgess she can see the real fear in his eyes, the certainty she's seen in the eyes of others, and the dread that comes with each shuddering breath. His eyes plead with her, not in front of them, they practically scream. She knows that look.

I am just an echo of an echo of an echo

There is a lot to keep track of in the moments Nathalie is crouching over Burgess. The fear, for a moment, seems to land against a wall. Because he deserves a little fear. A lot of fear, really.

Listening to someone's cry for help

“You’ll live,” she says, eventually, her tone cold, “for now.” She leans down, whispering as she goes on. “Those migrants from the west. When this is over, get your family and go to them. Ask for Eileen Ruskin and tell her— her sister sent you. Then you do good for those people. You have a lot to make up for.” Leaning back, she taps her knife against the cuts on his arm. “You’re on borrowed time now. And I will be checking up on you. You hurt even one more person and I will come for you. And I won’t care who’s watching.”

Look what you had to start

She stands slowly, blood staining her clothes, her hands, and her face. She looks over at his partner, lifting an eyebrow. “We’re going,” she says to him, but also to Adam. She glances to the Brit. “Aren’t we?”

Why all the change of heart?

Contemplating the rifleman in the doorway, Adam looks past LeRoux and then down to Burgess. As Burgess crawls away on his hands and knees toward the house, Adam relaxes his bow and levels an askance look at LeRoux. There's a deadness in his blue eyes, an unusual sense of both resolve and resignation…

You need to play your part

…when he draws back and fires an arrow at Burgess, hitting him square in the back of the neck. Burgess lets out a gurgling scream and drops to the ground, and Adam’s cold eyes turn back to LeRoux as screams erupt from the house and another gunshot blasts off, this time whizzing past LeRoux’s head close enough to disturb her hair.

A copy of a copy of a

“I've seen all I need to.” Is Adam’s challenge to LeRoux, as he reaches for another arrow.

Now look what you've gone and done

LeRoux stands still through the arrow and the bullet, eyes closing for a brief moment that feels stretched out to her.

Well that doesn't sound like fun

She ducks down. Adam speaks.

See I'm not the only one

The challenge is difficult to miss and she doesn’t hesitate to rise to meet it. Her hand latches onto Burgess’s ankle. She’s not going to let him die, not after this whole night. While she works on patching him up enough to keep him from dying right here in the driveway, her other hand steadies her— fingers spread out against the asphalt like she might dig into it if she could.

A copy of a copy of a

Instead, a field sweeps out from her. Weeds growing up through cracks in the sidewalk start to wither. Grass in the yard. And then, to Adam himself. His life for this man’s. A part of it, at least.

I am little pieces, little pieces, little pieces

Because she feels the need to insult him.

Pieces that were picked up on the way

Adam rankles his nose at first as he watches what LeRoux is going, but then that expression turns to a sudden and gasping exhalation of breath as he feels her transferring life energy from himself toward Burgess. Blue eyes snap wide, and Adam drops to one knee as black veins begin to course up through his flesh. “Nat— no,” Adam manages to exhale in wheezing capacity as his hand comes to his throat. Blood vessels rupture in his eyes, fingers curl at the skin of his throat as his lungs cease their function.

Imprinted with a purpose, with a purpose, with a purpose

LeRoux can feel Burgess’ life force waning, he was effectively dead from the brain trauma when she’d started this process, but already his flesh and bone has backed the arrow out of his skull and begin to repair the cerebrospinal damage done by the attack. But repairing so much of the human body requires an exhausting transference of life force. Exhausting for LeRoux, acting as a conduit for it, and fatal for the recipient.

A purpose that's become quite clear today

Plants do not possess nearly enough energy to spur the regenerative miracle she’s attempting to work here. The tiny insects, microscopic bacteria, nothing in the soil at all can even so much as close a papercut. But Adam, Adam is a living, breathing human being.

Look what you had to start

Or was.

Why all the change of heart?

The transfer often takes on a life of its own in this process, and LeRoux finds herself holding two equally hungry pythons in each hand, wrestling for control of her body. One snake that devours, and one snake that regurgitates. Adam’s flesh splits like parchment paper, and whether she wants to stop the process or not now is so far outside of her control it may as well be a truck without its brake on rolling down a hill with her pushing it. Dig her heels in all she likes, it can’t be stopped.

You need to play your part

The floodgates fill Burgess with a swelling crescendo of vivacity that regenerates his brain damage, removes the physical — though not the psychological — trauma of his injury, and feels like channeling an entire fire hose through her body in the process. But Adam, Adam, drops to his knees like a bag of wet cement. There’s a shattering sound when he does, followed by an ashen exhalation of his breath and a lifeless quality to his eyes. Bones break upward along the impact of his knees through his thighs, and when Adam falls forward he explodes like the long ashen head of a cigarette…

A copy of a copy of a

…scattering like dust in the wind, leaving a powdery, white skeleton behind that streaks dust across black clothing. But LeRoux can feel something about that life force she stole; it wasn’t any more than an ordinary human’s. It was no unending font of regenerative life. It was just…

Now look what you've gone and done

…a man.

Well that doesn't sound like fun

Now, a miserable pile of ashes.

See I'm not the only one

Nathalie feels that moment when the process isn't hers anymore. She tries anyway. Tears roll down her face as she strains to take the reins again, to pull back before it's too far gone to fix this.

A copy of a copy of a

This isn't what she wanted.

I am just a finger on a trigger on a finger

Unless it is.

Doing everything I'm told to do

Her hand lifts from the ground to grasp at her head as memories flutter through her— memories that aren't her own—

Always my intention my intention your attention

screaming, churning, being born from a chrysalis of flesh and gore, fingers pulling at the amniotic sack suspended from a series of pipes and braided cables like ripe fruit from a tree. Milky fluid streaked with blood splashing on a metal grate. Landing hard on a blood-slick shoulder. Taking in a breath of air and then vomiting up pink liquid. A blonde man with golden irises staring down with wide-eyes wonder.

Just doing everything you tell me to

Or maybe they are. Sometimes it's hard to tell. By the time Adam is scattering to the wind, the young woman is lying on the ground looking up at the sky, too exhausted to move, with tear streaks across her face like skeletal wings spreading over her skin.

Look what you had to start

And she tries to remember who she is.

Why all the change of heart?

Her head turns enough to see the remains of the man— unrecognizable now— and she struggles to her feet. Crossing over to him, she falls back to her knees like even that was too much for her. Her fingers rub ash between them and she looks at it like she doesn't quite know what she's looking at. Like it's distant from her.

You need to play your part

A gunshot reminds her of the present, blowing out a rear tire on the pickup truck. Burgess’ partner is a mercifully terrible shot. But he is advancing from the house, shakily chambering another rifle round. “Get away from him!” He screams again.

A copy of a copy of a

“Get away from her!” He screams, stepping out of the pickup truck, Rebel flag painted across one door. He has a baseball bat in his hand, advancing quickly. “What the fuck are you!?” He's too quick, the young woman darts away, the baseball bat connects to skull and vision blurs.

Now look what you've gone and done

LeRoux’s vision blotches back, she hears wet gasping, sees Burgess up on his feet looking at his hands covered in blood and dry in places with ashes. A confused, conflicted look fixes down on LeRoux. His partner is up behind him, rifle trained down at LeRoux’s stunned form. He slides the bolt action into place and aims the barrel down at eye level.

Well that doesn't sound like fun

Bemerkenswert,” the tall, dark-haired man with familiar blue eyes says, Luger aimed down at eye level. “Du silliest tod sein,” Kazimir says with a furrow of his brows, rain falling down at his shoulders, cold on bare skin. “Wie viele leben, katzchen?” The question is answered by another— gunshot.

See I'm not the only one

The ground erupts beside LeRoux, Burgess is holding the barrel aside, staring wide-eyed at his partner. “Get Harry,” Burgess urges, taking the rifle from his reluctant partner, waiting for him to start to move to the house, then looks down at LeRoux, conflicted.

A copy of a copy of a

Lifting her hands, LeRoux looks toward the man with the rifle. She blinks as the moment comes back to her. His shout sounds muffled and she doesn't seem to really be getting it. There's a shake in her fingers as the scene changes for her, a cry out as she's hit—

(Look what you had to start)

And then isn't. The shaking reaches her shoulders and she takes stock of where she is. Bones on the ground, gun barrel in her face. The look of the man changes, the language he uses, the moments bleed together and LeRoux lets out a ragged sigh.

Look what you had to start

"Bitte," she says, voice marred by the tightness in her throat, "Hör auf damit."

(Why all the change of heart?)

Even she isn't sure if she means for him to stop it with or without a bullet. Or if she's even talking to him. Her eyes close, her face crinkling up as she squeeze them shut. She jumps at the shot, eyes opening only after she realizes it didn't hit her. She looks up at Burgess, fingers wiping at her face, spreading blood and ash in their wake.

Why all the change of heart?

"I didn't mean for this to happen."

(You need to play your part)

“I know,” Burgess says without any real emotion in his voice. Instead, he just squares the rifle up to her head. “I don't know how you found me, I don't— I don't know how you survived what happened at the Ark, but I can't…” his expression screws up, brows scrunching together and lips curling into a frown. “I have a life now. I can't have you following us.”

You need to play your part

Randy!” His partner calls from the doorway of the house. “Randy come on!” It isn't clear whether or not Burgess hears that voice. Sweat beads down his brow, along with the blood from when he died mere moments ago, a death he may not even be cognizant of. The rifle muzzle rests inches from LeRoux’s brow.

(A copy of a copy of a)

“You know too much,” Burgess says with a shaky voice. “You— you're so dangerous.”

A copy of a copy of a

As he talks, LeRoux starts to laugh. It mixes with her tears and makes her sound more than a little out of control. Gun to her head, she looks up at Burgess— mirthless and incredulous. "He was right. You didn't change," she says, laughter dying down into a desperate huff. "He knew you. And now I do, too. You only have a life because I gave it to you."

(Now look what you've gone and done)

Her hand snakes out, grabbing onto the barrel of the rifle and twisting it upward. With her other hand, she pulls a knife from her boot and jams it into his leg.

Now look what you've gone and done

"I am more dangerous than you know," she growls lowly.

(Well that doesn't sound like fun)

A scream, the gun goes off but to her right. Her right ear rings, the only sound she can hear a tinnitus hum. The knife to the leg has him dropping the gun as screams erupt from the house — two this time — and Berlin sees Burgess’ partner holding back their young boy, Harry. Burgess drops onto his side, clutching his stabbed leg.

Well that doesn't sound like fun

He stares up at LeRoux, confusion set into his bones with horror and the point of a knife’s edge. Her words hit like a heavy weight, and disbelief floods that expression replacing everything else. He, of all people, should know what LeRoux is capable of after the experiments he put her through. Gasping, Burgess stares up at her, hearing the screams at his back.

(See I'm not the only one)

She's the one with the power, now. She's the one with the knife.

See I'm not the only one

Wrenching the gun out of his hand, LeRoux moves to stand over him. She doesn't point it at him, just keeps it out of his reach.

(A copy of a copy of a)

"Do they know what you did? This family you have? That child you have? Do they know that I wouldn't be this without you?" While heated, her words come in a whisper. Like she would like them not to know herself. Like she would rather be a nightmare coming for him in the dark than a figure of justice giving him what he deserves.

A copy of a copy of a

Her gaze travels to his neck, so recently healed at the cost of another. She can't fix that. But she can fix something.

(A copy of a copy of a)

Her knife cuts across his throat.

One quick movement to put him back where he was moments ago. One movement to undo her work. To give up on sparing his family this trauma. To try not to orphan another child.

"You could have lived," she says coldly, her eyes looking down at him, at the blood.

The chorus of screams that erupt from the house are beyond anything in LeRoux’s recent memory. Not since the shelling of Pollepel has she heard a child scream with that much terror, and even then. Not nearly as young. Maybe during the war, something pushed down so deeply she can't recall it. But not in recent memory, not since Wolfhound, not since…


Burgess grasps helplessly at his throat, blood pulsing down the front of his shirt, pulling between fingers futilely trying to keep it inside. He stares up at LeRoux with horrified, dark eyes. His lips make fish-like movements, pleading, begging.

Pink eyes stare up at him, tears welled in her eyes. His weathered hand touches her lips, sssh, and the flesh at her face begins to blacken and rot away. In that same moment, a sudden shock of something not felt in decades… pain. Pain!

LeRoux’s heart clenches in her chest. Burgess gasps, “Don't… my— boy…”

And then nothing.

Watching as he holds his throat, LeRoux tilts her head at the look in his eyes. How many times did someone look at him that way in his past? How many times did she? Her time in the Ark is fuzzy at best, faces blending together as much as the days did.

The boy's scream causes a twitch. The vision makes her step back.

Berlin watches Burgess fall, looks to the knife in her hand and the family looking on. Back down to the body. Her breath comes shorter, her chest tightens— she knows she can't save him again, she doesn't have the energy. Worse— she's not even sure she would want to. Instead, she picks up the envelope from where Adam dropped it, shoulders the rifle, and turns away from both of the bodies there.

Exhaustion bears down on her, and she means to walk back to her motorcycle… but it isn't long before she's running. Away from the house, away from the memories, away from everything.



The door to the bar pushes open, booted feet flecked with ashes carry tired strides across the hardwood floor. Old bottlcaps, broken glass, and cigarette butts mar the one pristine floor. A chair is grabbed by the back, dragged on two legs across the floor and spun around when the new arrival reaches the only occupied table.

“So, how’d it go?” Feet kicked up at the table, Adam Monroe looks up from a mostly empty glass of whiskey, tired eyes ringed with dark circles staring up at the man across from him as he settles down in the backward-spun chair.

“She killed him.” The new arrival says as he stares across the table. Adam barks with laughter and slams his glass down, sloshing a little whiskey onto the table.

“Well,” Adam says, cleaning his hand with a lick of two fingers, looking up to his identical double sitting across from him.

“This just got interesting.”

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